Friday, May 24, 2013

Keeping Up With the DIY Jones'

I had an epiphany a couple of days ago.  And it unnerved me.  A lot actually.  

I guess its been about three years ago that I started this blog as a way, quite frankly, to show off.  It was a way to show my family what I was up to since we didn't live near one another at the time, and to possibly generate more business.  I also saw it as an online portfolio, a digital documentation of all my design work, whether it be interior or graphic.  I really enjoyed sharing what I was up to, as well as sharing a little bit of me.

I then began to discover other home decor/DIY blogs to inspire me: how to blog, how to take better pictures, even projects to inspire me.  I became a little obsessed with how my blog looked and how it compared to others.

graphic by {be made designs}

Then came my Facebook page.  Perfect way to share my blog posts, my pictures, and get even more readers to my blog, and again, potentially more business.  

And then, Pinterest.  The wonderfully, awesome Pinterest.  Inspiration galore.  Another place to share my designs.  And lots more blogs to discover, follow, and get inspired from.  I began to notice how many followers these blogs had, and how many comments these blogs had, and how many visitors these blogs had, and I got bit by the bug, the "I want more" bug.  The pins these blogs posted were getting hundreds of repins, and I wanted my pins to skyrocket like that.

graphic by {be made designs}

So I began to compile a to-do list for my house and other random projects, and started to cross them off.  Sometimes working on two or three at a time.  Which is hell on my minor case of OCD.  But the more I got done, the more I could post and the more I could pin, therefore the more followers/pins I could get.

Post, post, post.  Pin, pin, pin.  Work, work, work.  Sure, I loved what I was creating.  And I love the process of creation that happens in my head and with my hands.  But my house didn't really need the things I was making.  I'm not into fluff, but suddenly I was creating fluff because, well, everyone does fluff.  And as I admitted in this particular post, fluff did work for me, but I don't need, or want, fluff all over my house.

I was also making things that had no function, and that is so not like me.  I do function.  That practical side of me wins out almost every time.  You can ask my husband.  I see something I like in a store, he asks if I want to buy it, and I say, "Nah, what would I use it for?"

graphic by {be made designs}

But my pins started getting repinned, and my posts started getting more views, and it felt awesome!  So, I thought, what can I do next that would be even better?  I started partying it up at other blogs and got even more views and more pins.  And suddenly my projects became about being the next big thing instead of something I loved doing or something that needed to be done.  {Christmas is a perfect example of this!}

graphic by {be made designs}

And every aspect of my daily life started being documented in pictures.  Do you know how hard it is to constantly take pictures of everything you do??  And its not just one photo, for me at least; you have to take lots of shots to get that one perfectly angled, unique, eye-catching shot that will pull people in.  And when you have a multi-step project, that's a LOT of pictures.  My husband and I invested in a camera a few years ago that was a big step-up from what I had been using, but not a fancy multi-lens, multi-button doo-hicky.  Just your basic point-and-shoot 14 MP camera.  And it worked great.  And I was pleased with what it produced.  Until I discovered DSLR, and that everyone had one.  And only the good blogs used a DSLR.  And I would only be able to take good shots of my designs if I had one.  So, obviously, I had to have one.  And now my husband feels this pressure to buy me one.  What is that?!  

Then, after all the parties, my project was featured!!  Three times!!  My blog was flooded with visitors, my project was pinned and repinned and repinned, and I got tons of sweet compliments.  It was like a little cheer section saying "You're awesome!  We love your work!"  It felt so good, every time my email went off with a new comment and my analytics showed more visitors.  It was addictive.  I wanted more features, more visitors, more comments, more pins.  More, more, more.

graphic by {be made designs}

So, here I am, working on I-can't-tell-you how many projects right now, finishing up a laundry room add-on, redecorating a living room, and finishing off a master bedroom, and my to-do list grows more each day, no matter how many things I cross off.  And I sat at my breakfast table one morning this week, thinking of all that needed to be done, and I didn't want to do any of it.  I was tired of working on projects.  I wanted to just be able to sit in my home and enjoy what I have created.

graphic by {be made designs}

That was the epiphany.  I am burning myself out trying to "keep up with the Jones'."  Which is where my husband and I were a few years ago that brought us to rock bottom.  We swore we would never go there again, but here I am.  And it's nobody's fault but my own.  I was no longer content with what I had.  It needed to be more, be like all those pins I have collected or blogs I follow.  Be like someone else.  And not myself.

graphic by {be made designs}
That's not to say that all the things I've made and done to my home aren't things I love, and I am grateful for Pinterest for inspiring me, especially of my crochet doily art, since it's something I can look at everyday and see my mom because I probably wouldn't have thought of that on my own.  But I miss my originality, my own "creative genius" that I had way before blogs and Pinterest.  I only get on Pinterest every other couple of days now.  It's almost too overwhelming.


I still plan on blogging and making stuff and getting inspired by Pinterest, sharing with and hopefully inspiring you, because that's what I set out to do.  And I still hope I get more readers and generate more business, but I think I need to chill out a while.  Finish what I've started and then take some time to enjoy what I've done.  Because isn't that the whole point of making all these things for my home: to make my home an enjoyable place, or to be better than so-and-so?  I really hope it's the former.  

I read a really great comment {#7 to be exact, which is very applicable to this entire post} in a blog post by Sugar Tart Crafts about "25 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Starting a Blog," that just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you have to if it doesn't work for you.  That really resonated with me because that's what I was starting to do.  Jumping on the chalkboard bandwagon, the chevron bandwagon, the rustic wood sign get it.  Not that there is anything wrong with those at all.  There are some awesome projects out there featuring those things.  But that doesn't mean they work for me.  {Although you'll see some of those items in my new room reveals.  Remember, I got bit by that bug.}  I don't regret those choices; I think they look really good, but would I have chosen to do them had they not been all over the internet?  I'm not sure....

graphic by {be made designs}

I really try not to pretend to be something I'm not.  I've never been one to follow the crowd, even though secretly I long to be accepted among them.  But I consider myself a unique individual, one that isn't always  following trends or doing something because everyone else is doing it.  And honestly, in my small town, that is a death sentence, which makes me long for the city, but I'm not going to make myself something I'm not just to fit in.  And that includes my design work.  My projects are funky, budget-conscious, and hopefully {most of the time} one-of-a-kind.  My graphic work, including my wedding invites, are not like most things you see out there now, but that's what I like about them.  And I hope that's what will draw unique individuals to them.  I started comparing my graphic work to others out there and began to feel like what I did wasn't good.  That's why my Etsy shop inventory didn't grow any.  I just felt like I wasn't good enough.

graphic by {be made designs}

I realize this post was quite a long one, and I hope you stuck with me through it, but it was something I needed to write.  Something I needed to put out there.  Maybe so someone could hold me accountable.  I'll always be a "maker" because I believe that is my God-given gift.  But it's time I be a maker to make me happy and not to be the "next big thing."

graphic by {be made designs}

I think in writing this post, another epiphany has evolved.  As I said above, I believe my God-given gift is to be a creator of all different things, and He will provide all that I need when I do it for His glory.  Not for my glory.  When I get my head straight with that philosophy, then I will get what I need.

Like with any addiction, I'll need rehab and I may have relapses.  But I've got my heart in the right place now, ahead of my brain, so I'll get through this.  (;

Thank you, a BIG thank you, to all of you who read, follow, pin, and enjoy my ramblings.  I swore I would never have a blog because people don't care about reading my personal business.  And while this is a design blog, I do reveal my personal side to you, which at times is hard to do.  But I appreciate you taking time to sit and look at my work, and read about me.  

I hope in a year I can come back and read this and say, "Yes! I did it! And things are so much better than I ever thought!"

You'll keep me in check, right? (:

graphic by {be made designs}

well, ta-ta for now....


  1. Bravo Jenni. It takes a good person that thinks deeply to see what was happening to you. It's hard not to want to do what everybody does so you can have it all. But then what do you do with "all" once you get it if that's not really what you want?
    Hey I'm a Jones but you're way ahead of me. I've never been one to go along, it just goes against what I am. But I've had more time to practice being who I am. It takes time and practice. We have to make mistakes to know what we dont' want to do or be.
    When I read something like your post it makes me feel good to know there are people like yourself out there. As human to human, I'm proud of you.
    I'm not one to agree with somebody just cause they think I should. I'm not always popular with my kids (4)all grown ups with own kids and lives. I say what I really think not what I think they want to hear, but only when they ask me. I don't offer my advice or opinion unless it's asked for.
    Keep up the good work Jenni, you've come a long way already. I'll be interested to see how you do. Be you and be happy. I loved all your sayings pertinent to what you were talking about as you went along. It takes integrity and guts to say you made a mistake or did different than you knew you wanted to. Have a wonderful holiday weekend.
    What all you were talking about is why I don't have a blog, no money for camera, etsy store, all the goodies that go along with the "blog" deal. I wonder where everybody gets the money to buy the Cameo or whatever they are, the Cricuts,go to the conferences. I'm happy for them I just wonder. Happy Days

  2. Jenni - love this post. We may have to read it about 20 times. You state the obvious but we cannot always see it. This was wonderful and a need-to-read for most bloggers. Please continue with the personal stories along with your creative endeavors in whatever manner and time frame that makes you content and happy.

    Looking forward to spending more time on your site (when we are not driving ourselves crazy with what to do next! :0) Thank you and sincere best wishes! ~ Sharon and Denise @ BeBetsy

    1. Thanks so much for your sweet words. It's hard sometimes to bear one's soul but I'm glad I did and I'm glad you enjoyed it. (: And thanks for hanging out for a while! Have a great day!


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